Save the Sound, a 51-year-old environmental action organization based in Connecticut and New York, and its president, Leah Lopez Schmalz, have been honored as a 2024 National Medalist by The Garden Club of America. It is the highest honor bestowed upon individuals and organizations by the GCA for distinguished achievements in areas related to its purpose. With a long-standing tradition of celebrating extraordinary efforts to protect and beautify the planet, The Garden Club of America will present the medals at its 111th annual meeting in April in Hartford.
Save the Sound will receive the Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal, awarded for outstanding achievement in environmental protection and the maintenance of quality of life.
“We are honored for our work to be recognized by The Garden Club of America, whose commitment to caring for our communities and protecting our environment has endured for more than a century,” said Lopez Schmalz, who became president of Save the Sound in October 2022 after spending more than 20 years with the organization. “At Save the Sound, we strive towards these same goals—bringing people together in the places they cherish and helping them harness their passion to protect their backyard. Sometimes that backyard is a beach or a river or sometimes it is a forest or wetland, and our incredible team of scientists, lawyers, educators, and engineers stand ready to use every tool in our toolbox to protect and restore those special places across the Long Island Sound region. From data-driven advocacy to enforcing the Clean Water Act, from taking down dams that stop fish from migrating to building living shorelines to protect neighborhoods, and from conserving open space to engaging younger generations as stewards of Long Island Sound, our team is singularly focused on protecting our little piece of the planet. We are humbled by this year’s medal cohort, and we offer our congratulations to the nine other outstanding National Medalists and our appreciation for all they do to care for our natural world and all of its inhabitants.”
“We are thrilled that Save the Sound is being recognized for the important work they are doing,” said Marilyn Donahue, GCA president. “I have witnessed the results of their efforts first hand—they are truly a remarkable organization and have made such a difference to the health of the Sound.”
Founded in 1913, the GCA is a nonpartisan issue-oriented advocate for a beautiful, healthy planet. It is a nonprofit national organization recognized for its leadership in horticulture, conservation, creative arts, historic preservation, and environmental protection. Its mission is to bring its 199 member clubs together to cultivate a bond among people, plants, and the environment. The GCA member clubs consist of almost 18,000 club members who devote energy and expertise to projects in their communities and across the United States.
The mission of Save the Sound is to protect and improve the land, air, and water of Connecticut and the Long Island Sound region of New York. We use legal and scientific expertise and bring people together to achieve results that benefit our environment for current and future generations.